Maine Republican state Sen. Michael Willette, a serial poster of racist comments about Barack Obama, asked the Maine Senate to forgive him for an offensive March 1 post that implied President Obama and the ISIS terrorist group were family members.
“We need to show restraint, especially myself in this instance,” Willette told members of the Senate Wednesday. “I would like to publicly apologize for my actions and ask for your forgiveness.”
On March 1 on Facebook, Willette uploaded a photo of Obama and superimposed: “Why haven’t I done anything about ISIS? Because I’ll deal with them at my family reunion.”
Under the photo he wrote: “I’ve been very good over the last year and a half about not posting things about Obama, but this one was too good to pass up. I promise this will be the last one for some time.”
It was another in a countless array of disrespectful and degrading insults directed at the president since he took office in 2008, insults that Obama supporters look at in dismay.
Democrats called the post “racist” and “bigoted.” Willette insists that he’s “as far away from being a racist as you can get.”
But Maine’s Democrats have had enough of Willette. Several collaborated on a letter to Senate president Michael Thibodeau that read: “In the wake of our country’s recent tribute to the brave Americans who stood up to injustice, we find ourselves in the position of being unable to look the other way and ignore the unacceptable and less than statesman-like comments made by one of our own.”
However, there’s little chance that Willette would get anything more than a slap on the wrist. It’s the ultimate demonstration of the enduring power of white supremacy—the knowledge that he can say anything he wants about a Black man, even if he is the occupier of what has traditionally been called the most powerful post in the world, and he won’t have to pay a price. How powerful can the president be if elected officials can insult him and his wife with impunity and nothing happens to them?
Willette claimed he is “profoundly disappointed” by Obama’s policies, “and that frustration led me, against my better judgment, to make several criticisms of the president that were completely inappropriate. I can promise to you that this mistake in judgment will not be repeated.”
After addressing the Senate, Willette continued damage control. “When I served in the military,” he said, “I had, you know, a vast array of friends. And any connotation of racism in those posts, if that’s what it was construed to be then that is not the intent.”
The Bangor Daily News, his home newspaper, tells a different story, however. “Willette has a long history of online hate and bigotry,” the paper pointed out.
In a 2013 post, Willette posted: “No one really knows who the hell Obama really is and his past is as hard to understand as Egyptian hieroglyphics.”
In another, he said that the president was “living up to his Islamic heritage.”
When Obama attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa, Willette cracked that “we change the locks in the White House before he gets back and invite him to stay right there in his homeland.”
He also directed his venom at Hillary Clinton, saying that Obama’s scandals “will have its roots in her big ole ass and she won’t be able to shake it.”
And when it came to American Muslims, Willette said that he wanted to “[r]ound them up and air drop them back into the rubble and hell holes from whence they came.”
Rachel Talbot-Ross of the NAACP’s Portland, Maine chapter said Republican leadership should hold Willette accountable.
“As an elected official, Senator Willette should and must be held to a higher standard,” Talbot-Ross noted in a letter to Thibodeau. “It is also not enough for you and members of the Republican Party to issue a statement that merely condemns this ideology.”